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Historic bank up for auction

Wednesday 23 January 2019

A former Somerset bank, complete with underground vault and a unique history, is going under the hammer next month with Clive Emson Auctioneers.

The ex-Natwest premises, believed to have stored the crown jewels and other ceremonial objects during the Blitz, is set to be sold in the coming weeks, with auctioneers expecting the property to reach the higher end of its guide price of £200,000.

According to the Valuation Office, the property's vast underground vault measures a massive 383.63 square metres (4,000 square feet) - which is bigger than the whole of the three storey building put together.

Speaking about the lot, auctioneer Graham Barton said: “At first glance this is simply a prime town centre building with the potential for a number of flats and a shop or two with land to the rear having scope for a new build residential scheme, plus parking and garaging.

“However, the near unique twist in the tale comes at the north of the site under a huge protective bund (a constructed retaining wall around storage) where there is a vast underground vault. Local legend has it that the Bank of England stored vital documents, banknotes and even the Crown Jewels here during the Second World War.

“How much truth lies in the tale is unknown but on the basis that the enemy aircraft knew where Threadneedle Street and the Tower of London were but had probably never heard of 7 Fore Street, Chard, it might just be true. It would certainly help explain the amazing ‘above and below’ ground feat of building and engineering.”

Clive Emson Land and Property Auctioneers is cataloguing 115 lots for the first sale of 2019, with the former bank being one of them. In 2018, the company catalogued a total of 1,246 lots and achieved sales worth £170 million from eight rounds of regional sales, with a sales rate of 77 per cent.

Managing Director, James Emson said: “We are looking forward to 2019 with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. The Clive Emson team has prepared our first catalogue of the year in just seven days, producing a fantastic selection of land and property throughout southern England.

“Our industry is going through monumental changes with new technologies evolving rapidly. We are fully embracing these opportunities to further improve our already excellent service.

“We will continue to be at the forefront of innovation – not least with the introduction of flexible online auction dates and also fixed events where buyers and sellers can get a second bite of the cherry. But we will also continue to combine the traditional and modern auction methods. What has worked for decades does not suddenly go out of the window.”

The premises will be heading to the auction room on 7 February at the St Mellion International Resort, in Cornwall.